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The future of the computer chip.

  11/15/2001 - Thursday, November 15, 2001 4:30:56 AM MST Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

Moores law isn't Moores Curse, but we're talking serious computing in the future.
Gordon Moore; the founder of Intel, and the famous Moores Law is taking heat for his well known Law. Gordon Moore said during a speech in 1965, that his Law says; that each new integrated memory circuit contained roughly twice as much capacity as its predecessor, and each chip was released within 18-24 months of the previous chip. This simple law has been misinterpreted many different ways.

Essentially, Moores Law has held strong in the 36+ years since Moore coined it in 1965. In the past decade however, things have sped up, and I've calculated 9 months vs 18-24 in the past 7 years. Scientists and Computer Engineers are fearing a slowdown in Moores Law however, urging essential new research and developments; just like Intel did with their 4004 Microprocessor.

Nanotechnology deals with technology on the molecular atomic level; one atom at a time. IBM has already built the first carbon Nanotubes, which have other possible uses like an elevator cable into space. Nanotechnology is my best bet for what to watch in the next decade. It's uses are as broad as the microprocessor.

Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography is a lithography process which can yeild a wavelength of light measuring 70 nanometers. Shrinking the size of the light used in the lithograpy process allows for smaller transistors to be drawn or "etched" onto the silicon. This technology I first wrote about a year ago, it's already in use today, but may not see widespread use until 2005.

Are we still using Silicon in 10 years? Well, Silicon is nice, cheap, abundant, but isn't necessarily the best choice. Other elements have been bonded with Silicon to make a syntheic material. Silicon alone isn't going to cut it 10 years from now, but something will.

Hewlett Packards' "Atomic Pixie Dust" already pattented and unlike IBM's "Pixie Dust" used in their hard drives, deals with the wires needed to connect molecular computers. HP has in no way demonstrated the technology yet and dubs it a research strategy, but they're aiming for a 16 Kilobit memory chip by 2005.

The problem facing Microprocessors is Moores Law, which says double every 18-24 months. Within 10 years this yeilds a 30 GigaHertz processor producing as much heat proportionally as a nuclear power plant. We've already hit microprocessors in the Trillion Theoretical operations per second, and that used to be Millions. It was millions in the 1990s, now it's Trillions TOPS in the new century.

Lasers and fiber could well replace copper as it replaced aluminum. Copper recently replaced aluminum as the conductor wires in microprocessors. Super tiny lasers and fiber would work better, faster, and would be a perfect fit for tiny transistors. Fiber and trillions of tiny lasers would be costly, but their price is falling rapidly.

With all the advances in technology happening at once, which one is bound to do the trick? The sure fit technology will be the one that is produced, is cheap, and provides a path for at least another 30 years. This technology is bound to be nanotechnology, or molecular computing.

Intel doesn't plan on moving to the 95 nanometer (it now uses 130) lithography process until 2005, the same year EUV is scheduled to be in full force, and also the same year IBM plans on it's first 16 Kilobit nanotube memory. 2005 seems to be a good year to gauge what technology will win in keeping us on track or better for Moores Law.

The key to the next technological revolution is nanotechnology as it's uses are as broad as the microprocessor.

Watch out for the first true nanotechnology computer (molecular computer); it will be here sooner than my grandchildren.

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